MRSA hospitalizations double over 5 years: Tips for prevention

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
MRSA infections doubled over 5 years, finds new report
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A new investigations shows hospitalization for cases of MRSA - methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus – doubled in academic hospitals over the past five years. The finding is important because it’s contrary to what a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that found MRSA cases in hospitals were declining.

MRSA hospitalizations surpass AIDS and flu

According to the report from University of Chicago Medicine and the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC), 1 in 20 inpatient admissions were the result of MRSA infection in 2008, which is an increase from 21 in 1000 patients hospitalized to 42 in 1000 patients from 2003.

"The rapid increase means that the number of people hospitalized with recorded MRSA infections exceeded the number hospitalized with AIDS and influenza combined in each of the last three years of the survey: 2006, 2007, and 2008," said Michael David, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and one of the study's authors in a press release.

According to the researchers, MRSA, that can infect the skin, lungs, spinal fluid and enter the bloodstream. They explain the CDC report that found a decline in MRSA hospitalizations only looked at invasive infections, explaining the discrepancy between what they found and what the CDC reported.

In their new report, David and his team found information from patient billing records that missed one-third of MRSA cases in four hospitals. The researchers used the UHC database, which includes data from 90 percent of all non-profit academic medical centers in the U.S.

The researchers say MRSA rates have doubled in the past 5 years primarily from community acquired infections, versus infections spread in nursing homes and hospitals, as was initially the case when the superbug first emerged.

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Tips to avoid MRSA

Here are some tips to reduce your chances of getting the infection.

  • Wash your gym equipment before using.
  • Never share another person’s soap, towel or razor
  • Wash your hands before and after playing sports and after using shared equipment, such as weights.
  • Wash your workout clothes or athletic uniform after each use
  • See your doctor at the first sign of infection. Symptoms of skin infection include redness, swelling, pain and pussy drainage. The area might look like a pimple, boil of spider bite.
  • Wash cuts and scrapes with antibacterial soap as soon as they occur. Cover them with a bandage until they’re healed. Keeping wounds covered will prevent MRSA from entering broken skin.
  • Don’t touch another person’s wounds or bandages.
  • Keep your home and personal environment clean.
  • Clean your shopping cart with antibacterial cleanser before you touch it. MRSA enters the skin through even tiny breaks in the skin. Use antibacterial on your hands after you’ve finished shopping.
  • Teach your family the importance of frequent hand washing and cleanliness. Encourage them not to share personal items.

The new finding that MRSA hospitalizations doubled over five years makes it important to find ways to stop MRSA. If you suspect you might have an infection see your doctor right away. Early treatment that incudes draining the infection usually mean the MRSA will heal without complications.

Citation:
Michael Z. David, Sofia Medvedev, Samuel F. Hohmann, Bernard Ewigman, Robert S. Daum
"Increasing Burden of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Hospitalizations at US Academic Medical Centers, 2003?." Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 33:8 (August 2012).

Resources:
Mayo Clinic
MRSA Infection

CDC
Personal Prevention of MRSA Infections

Image credit:
CDC Public Health Image Library

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